Track athletes qualify for nationals

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Track athletes qualify for nationals

Story by Kyle Davis

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It’s never too early to prepare for the future.

Several athletes on Baker’s indoor track team did not waste any time in reserving a spot in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Championships March 6 to March 7 in Johnson City, Tenn.

Five athletes qualified for nationals in the first indoor meet of the season at the Graceland Invitational while others, including senior Chelsey Ornburn and the women’s 4×400 relay team of senior Katey Wegemer, junior Kelsey Heckathorne, senior Regan Boyer and junior Ashlee Miller, qualified in a meet in Manhattan before Christmas break.

“I’m very excited about where we’re at,” coach Zach Kindler said. “We’ve only started to tap into the potential of some of these athletes.”

For freshman JL Anderson, it did not take long to adjust to college competition and find success.

Anderson won the 55-meter hurdles, with a time of 7.82, followed by teammate Aaron Hannon, who placed second at 7.94, with both times good enough to go to nationals.

“For the most part, it was very unexpected,” Anderson said. “Before the race, I had my doubts, but after the race I felt more confident about what I could do and what I could accomplish.”

Junior Kome Okiomah also qualified, finishing three-hundredths of a second behind Graceland's Justin Gibbs in the 55-meter dash.<br/>Junior Brian Korn, a transfer from the University of Arizona, won his event, the shot put, with a throw of 15.89 meters, beating Central Methodist University's Will Freeman, 14.90 meters, by nearly a meter. Korn also will be heading to the indoor nationals for the Wildcats.Junior Brian Korn, a transfer from the University of Arizona, won his event, the shot put, with a throw of 15.89 meters, beating Central Methodist University's Will Freeman, 14.90 meters, by nearly a meter. Korn also will be heading to the indoor nationals for the Wildcats.
Junior Brian Korn, a transfer from the University of Arizona, won his event, the shot put, with a throw of 15.89 meters, beating Central Methodist University’s Will Freeman, 14.90 meters, by nearly a meter. Korn also will be heading to the indoor nationals for the Wildcats.

“It was good to get it out of the way in the first meet, so now you can just focus on training through the next couple of meets and not worry about how you do,” Korn said.

Miller had a successful day at Graceland, qualifying for nationals and winning three individual events: the 55-meter hurdles, the high jump and long jump.

Since the Graceland meet, Baker has faced some NCAA opponents in the Holiday Inn Invitational at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Jan. 16 to Jan. 17 and the Iowa State Invitational last Saturday.

“It was interesting to see how we all could compete against those high-caliber athletes and just see that we are good enough to compete at their level too,” Ornburn said.

With a group of experienced and successful upperclassmen, but a young team overall, the team is optimistic for the rest of the season and the future.

“I think a lot of us seniors have a lot of talent, so just the fact that (Kindler’s) bringing in all these freshmen that have such great talent, it’s really promising for future years,” Ornburn said.

Next up for the track team is the Scottie Open Saturday in Highland.

“We’ve had a great start, and I hope it continues to go well,” Anderson said.